Originally published in Earth First! Journal, Beltane (May 1) edition, 1994
(Note: This article was written early in 1994, before many of the 14,000+
pages of FBI and OPD files and depositions were acquired. Even more
evidence of unlawful FBI and OPD complicity has been discovered since then.
See other articles in the Judi Bari Web Site and the Albion Monitor Bari Archives for updates.)
On May 24, 1990, Judi Bari and Darryl Cherney were on their way to an organizing meeting for Redwood Summer when a bomb exploded under the driver's seat of Bari's car in Oakland, CA.
I knew it was a bomb the second it exploded. I felt it rip through me with a force more powerful and terrible than anything I could imagine. It blew right through my car seat, shattering my pelvis, crushing my lower backbone, and leaving me instantly paralyzed. Slumped over in my seat, unable to move, I couldn't feel my legs, but desperate pain filled my body. I didn't know such pain existed. I could feel the life force draining from me, and I knew I was dying. I tried to think of my children's faces to find a reason to stay alive, but the pain was too great, and I couldn't picture them. I wanted to die. I begged the paramedics to put me out.
I woke up in the hospital 12 hours later, groggy and confused from shock and morphine. My leg was in traction, tubes trailed from my body, and I was absolutely immobile. As my eyes gradually focused, I made out two figures standing over me. They were cops. Slowly I began to understand that they were trying to question me. "You are under arrest for possession of explosives," one of them said. And even in this devastated condition, my survival instincts kicked in. "I won't talk to you without a lawyer," I mumbled, and drifted back into unconsciousness.
Now, three and a half years later, even the FBI has given up on saying that Darryl Cherney and I bombed ourselves. They slandered us all over the national press, declaring us guilty of transporting a bomb they knew had been used to try to kill us. But in the end, they were unable to produce any evidence against us, and the district attorney refused to press charges.
Last month, the US Court of Appeals in San Francisco turned down the FBI's third attempt to squash Darryl's and my lawsuit against them for false arrest and civil rights violations. In addition, the House Subcommittee on Civil and Constitutional Rights has recently begun a congressional probe into the FBI's role in this case. Through these two venues - the lawsuit and the congressional subcommittee - we have gotten access to Oakland Police photos, reports, and depositions, and gained the release of 5,000 pages of FBI files on the case. As we peel back the layers of lies and deception, we can begin to reconstruct what really happened. I have had plenty of time now to ponder the magnitude and the horror of this attack. And I think it's important for all Earth First! activists to know this story.
The events surrounding the 1990 bombing can only be explained in the context of COINTELPRO, J. Edgar Hoover's Counterintelligence Program to "disrupt, misdirect, isolate and neutralize" radical groups in the US. The techniques of COINTELPRO include infiltration, surveillance, agents provocateurs, disinformation campaigns, fake documents, and framing or assassinating political leaders.
The FBI operation against Earth First! in Arizona was a classic example of COINTELPRO tactics (see Mark Davis' articles in the last two EF! Journals). Agents provocateurs infiltrated the group and misdirected them into doing an action that they would not have done on their own. The FBI also attempted to frame Dave Foreman, and certainly succeeded at neutralizing him as a spokesman and inspirational figure in Earth First!
The man in charge of my case at the FBI was Richard Held, director of the San Francisco FBI office. Held has a 25-year history as one of the principle operatives of COINTELPRO. He is known for producing fake documents, including death threats and insulting letters and cartoons, and sending them back and forth between different factions of the Black Panther Party in order to terrorize or enrage the leaders and destabilize the group. Held was personally involved in the framing of Black Panther Geronimo jiJaga (Pratt) and American Indian Movement leader Leonard Peltier, both of whom have been in jail for decades for crimes that they did not commit. I cannot describe the cold terror of waking up in the hospital, crippled for life, and finding out that Richard Held was accusing me of blowing myself up with my own bomb.
COINTELPRO was publicly exposed in 1971 when the Black Panthers, tired of seeing their activists murdered and their group destroyed, broke into the FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania, and liberated their files. In 1975, the Senate Judiciary Committee conducted a congressional investigation and found the FBI's COINTELPRO activities to be illegal, involving massive violations of constitutional rights.
The FBI claims to have discontinued COINTELPRO after this exposure. Yet in the bombing case I find not only the resurgence of COINTELPRO, but also the privatization of COINTELPRO. Not just the FBI, but now private corporations as well, are using the same counter-intelligence tactics that were declared illegal in the 1970's to try to discredit and destroy Earth First! in the 1990's.
The effort to disrupt Ukiah Earth First! and paint me as a terrorist began in November 1988, a year and a half before the bombing. At that time, a man named Irv Sutley came to Ukiah to attend an abortion clinic defense that I had organized in coalition with Ukiah Earth First! and other local groups. We were truly outrageous at that demo, singing our newly written song, "Will the Fetus Be Aborted" to the Operation Rescue thugs.
I knew Irv, although not well, from my earlier work in the Central America movement in Sonoma County. Irv was traveling with a good friend of mine, and after the demonstration we all went back to Darryl's house. We talked about our recent successful blockade of Cahto Wilderness, in which I had been arrested for vehicular trespass. We smoked dope and fantasized about imaginary actions, including creating and oil spill in our pro-oil congressman Doug Bosco's back yard swimming pool.
After a while, Irv opened the trunk of his car and showed us that he was carrying a modified Uzi submachine gun, which he told us was legal. We took turns posing for photos with the gun, laughing and trying to look tough. Irv placed the gun in my hands, showed me how to hold it, and arranged it so my Earth First! shirt was clearly visible.
About a month later, unknown to me at the time, the Ukiah Police received a copy of the photo of me holding the Uzi, along with a letter from an anonymous informant. The letter combined half-truths and outright lies to make me look like a terrorist. It read: "I joined Earth First to be able to report illegal activities of that organization. Now I want to establish a contact to provide information to authorities. The leader and main force of Earth First in Ukiah is Judi Bari. She is facing a trespassing charge in connection with the Earth First sabotage of a logging road in the Cahto Peak area. She did jail time in Sonoma County for blocking the federal building to support the Communist government in Nicaragua. Bari and the Ukiah Earth First are planning vandalism directed at Congressman Doug Bosco to protest offshore oil drilling. Earth First recently began automatic weapons training..."
The letter went on to offer to set me up for a marijuana bust. The police were instructed to take out a coded ad in the local newspaper if they were interested. They were and they did. Around that time, Irv Sutley called me up and asked me to sell him some marijuana. But while I may have been stupid enough to pose for joke photos with an Uzi, I was not stupid enough to sell marijuana. I refused to get him the dope, and I was not busted.
The Uzi photo did not go to waste, though. Shortly after the bombing, the Ukiah Police released it to the press, and it was printed in all the large mainstream newspapers as "proof" that I was a terrorist.
During the years leading up to the bombing, Earth First! in Northern California had grown steadily in both size and prestige. We were everywhere, blocking log trucks, sitting in trees, protesting at the mills, or taking over the Board of Forestry dressed as animals. We saved Cahto Wilderness, we saved Trout Creek. By 1989, during Earth First! National Treesit Week we were able to pull off 6 strong actions in one week in the Redwood region, with local watershed groups providing support, and EF!ers showing up to block logging in a new location each day.
Meanwhile, side by side with the Earth First! work, we were building alliances with progressive timber workers to oppose the corporations. We formed IWW Local #1, affiliated with the radical Wobblies union, and started signing up timber workers and representing them in workplace issues. We publicly denounced the timber corporations, not only for their treatment of the forest, but also for their treatment of their employees. We were getting too popular, and the timber industry had to put a stop to it.
Increasingly, violence was being used as a means to repress us on the front lines. We were punched, shot at, and run off the road with log trucks, while the local police turned their heads and refused to intervene, arrest, or prosecute our attackers. The timber industry thought this was hilarious. When EF!er Greg King was knocked to the ground by a chainsaw-wielding logger at a demonstration in June, 1989, Maxxam executive Dave Galitz sent the following memo to CEO Charles Hurwitz: "Enclosed is an article on Cherney and King's latest stunt. As soon as we find the home of the fine fellow who decked Greg King, he has a dinner invitation at the Galitz residence."
The problem for big timber was to be able to continue the attacks on us without gaining public sympathy for Earth First! This was done, with the help of the highly cooperative press and local police, by creating the myth that both sides were violent. For example, in August, 1989, my car was rammed from behind, Karen Silkwood style, by a log truck that we had blockaded less than 24 hours earlier. My car was totaled, and three of us Earth First! activists and four of our children ended up in the hospital with minor injuries. The police refused to investigate it as anything but a traffic accident, and the press refused to print the proven fact that the truck driver was the same one we had just blockaded.
Finally, months later, we were able to get this charge included in a small article buried on page B-3 of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat. Two days later, front page metro headlines screamed, "Slashed Tire Leads To Attempted Murder Probe." A log truck had gone off the road when it blew a tire, and the owner claimed that the inside of the tire had been slashed.
But by spring of 1990, it was getting harder and harder to discredit us. We had put out a national call for people to come to Redwood Summer. Student Environmental Action Coalition (SEAC) had publicized it to students all over the country, and it was becoming clear that we had both the support and the infrastructure to pull it off. We had publicly renounced tree-spiking. We had called for non-violent demonstrations in response to timber's repeated attacks. And we had formed an alliance with Seeds of Peace and other peace activists, so that we could really make it happen.
Around this time, things started to get crazy. Fake press releases containing the Earth First! logo but definitely not written by us, appeared in our community, distributed by the big timber companies. "We are in a 'war' with the north coast timber companies," read one of them. "We intend to spike trees, monkeywrench, and even resort to violence if necessary." Another, called "Some Thought On Strategy," rambled on incoherently about sabotage, randomness and invisibility. But they misspelled Darryl's name, and got my home town wrong. These false documents were widely distributed to timber workers and to the local press, who treated them as genuine despite their incredible inaccuracies and our repeated denials.
Louisiana-Pacific distributed the fakes to millworkers at a mandatory meeting held on-the-clock at their Sonoma pulp mill. At that meeting, according to a grievance filed by Pulp and Paper Workers Union Local 49, plant manager Fred Martin encouraged employees to intimidate environmentalists by going to meetings and sitting down next to us "with rolled up sleeves, wearing work boots and hard hats."
Maxxam also distributed at least one of these false press releases to out-of-town newspapers after they had privately acknowledged that it was a fake. In an internal company memo dated April 18, 1990, executive Dave Galitz wrote, "Enclosed is a flyer with the Earth First! logo, however, as Darryl's name is misspelled, we are not sure who put it out." One week later, on April 25, columnist Robert Morse wrote in the San Francisco Examiner that he had just received this obviously false press release in the mail from Maxxam. "Things are getting pretty weird up there," wrote Morse. "Not only are trees being clearcut, but dirty tricksters are turning them into fake press releases."
But for all his city sophistication, Morse was right on the bandwagon with the others when I got bombed one month later. He wrote a column ridiculing our claim of nonviolence, without realizing that he was being influenced by the very disinformation campaign he had just exposed.
Another fake document making the rounds right before the bombing was a phony "Earth First! Terrorism Manual," distributed by the anti-environmental hate group, Sahara Club. In their April, 1990, newsletter, they printed a diagram of how to make a bomb, claiming it was from an Earth First! manual. Of course, this was false, but by saying it was from Earth First! the Sahara Club managed to simultaneously distribute information about how to make bombs, while inciting hatred against us and associating us with explosives in people's minds.
Through this disinformation campaign, the timber industry was doing their best to erode our credibility. But it's not as if we didn't help them along with some of our own mistakes. The worst of these was in March, 1990, when Darryl went on 60 Minutes and told 10 million viewers, "If I had a fatal disease, I would definitely strap a body bomb to myself and blow up the Glen Canyon Dam, or the Maxxam building, at night after everyone had gone home." Darryl, who has never even pulled a survey stake or lit a firecracker, would never really do anything like that. He just wanted to get on TV. But that's why COINTELPRO works so well. They don't just make up what they say about you. They take your real weakness - in EF!'s case a tendency to brag about and exaggerate monkeywrenching - and turn it into something that will destroy you, in our case, an image of EF! as a domestic terrorist group.
Along with the disinformation campaign that preceded the bombing, there was also a destabilization campaign, designed to terrorize us and distract us from the organizing work that needed to be done. The most obvious form of this was the death threats we received starting in April of 1990. There were dozens of them, ranging from the truly terrifying photo of me with a rifle scope and cross-hairs drawn over my face, to the absurdly comical computer mail merge threats, sent to each EF! contact in our area.
Unlike the violence on the front lines, I never believed these threats were coming from unconnected individuals. For one thing they all came around the same time, and I have never received death threats before or since. Also, they were too good, often including artistic touches like hand-drawn logger boots or a hangman's noose. But there is other evidence that at least one of these threats was written by a professional.
"Judi Bari, get out and go back where you came from," read the threat. "We know everything. You won't get a second warning." It was typed on a manual typewriter, and when we compared it to the informant letter that had been sent to the Ukiah police along with the photo of me with Irv Sutley's Uzi a year and a half earlier, we discovered that they matched. The style of typewriter, the irregularities of the individual letters, and the format in which the addresses were typed were all looked the same, even when we enlarged the type on document analysis machine.
The fact that one of the death threats matched a letter written by a police informant who had been conducting surveillance on me for a year and a half is not proof in itself that the FBI was involved in the death threat campaign. But matching letters are certainly reason to investigate, and the FBI's refusal to do so makes me even more suspicious of them. We publicly handed the two matching letters to the FBI, and declared that Irv Sutley was the probable author. The FBI assured us they would investigate, but in my entire 5,000 pages of FBI files, neither the matching documents nor Irv Sutley's name appears even once.
Not all of the threats we received were in writing. Wise Use Movement activist Candy Boak, leader of the Maxxam front group Mother's Watch, was a specialist at this type of harassment. I remember her calling me on my home phone as soon as I got back from a Redwood Summer organizing meeting. She told me she had been watching us, and accurately described the people at the meeting and the cars they were driving. Then she said, "Me and my husband John are coming over to visit you this weekend. We know where you live, over there in Redwood Valley."
I tried to ignore the death threats, but it was getting hard to concentrate. I was scared for my children. I considered going underground. I took the written death threats to the County Sheriff, but Lt. Satterwhite just told me, "we don't have the manpower to investigate. If you turn up dead, then we'll investigate." I went to the County Board of Supervisors and complained about this treatment by the Sheriff's office. But Supervisor Marilyn Butcher responded, "you brought it on yourself, Judi."
Besides the death threats, there were other forms of destabilization. At one of our Redwood Summer planning meetings, a man who was brand new to the group and unknown to any of us jumped up and got in my face when I suggested that we organize collective child care. "Hey, it's not my fault your old man ditched you and left you with the kids!," he shouted. I had to be physically restrained to keep from decking him. Later I realized I was being baited into a fight which would have discredited our call for non-violence. People just don't say things like that in real life.
Weirdness was everywhere. On Earth Day 1990, an expert team of EF! tree climbers had been planning for months to climb the Golden Gate Bridge and hang a huge banner in protest of the corporate greenwash. The night before, to the climbers' surprise, three power lines were cut down in Santa Cruz. We thought it was great at the time, and I, naively thinking I was safe because I was not involved, even told the press that the people who did it were heroes. But the communique taking credit for the power lines was signed "Earth Night Action Group." Darryl had recently produced the famous Earth Night poster, and was (also naively) openly and publicly distributing it. Now, in retrospect, I realize that whoever chose the name Earth Night Action Group for the Santa Cruz power lines was either equally naive, or maybe a provocateur. Because, no matter what you think of the action itself, the use of that name implicated Darryl, a highly public Earth First! organizer, in a serious act of sabotage that he had nothing to do with.
When the EF!ers were arrested on the Golden Gate Bridge to hang the Earth Day banner, Darryl, who was committing no crime making press calls from a nearby telephone, was caught up in the sweep. And strangely, even though the arrests took place on the Marin County side of the San Francisco bridge, the Oakland Police Intelligence Unit was on the scene, as well as the FBI. They impounded and searched Darryl's car without a warrant, and confiscated his belongings. Included in the items taken was the pasted up master copy of the Earth Night poster. Yet no public statements were made about this find, and the police simply let Darryl go without even questioning him about it.
This lack of comment on Darryl's link to the Earth Night poster was especially odd because the Golden Gate Bridge climb and the Santa Cruz power lines were blended together in the press coverage, in the FBI's internal files, and in the public's mind. Headlines like "Eco-Terrorists Cut Power" and "Earth First! Militants Storm Golden Gate Bridge" equated the two, and photos of downed power lines accompanied stories about the banner hanging.
The worst of these "eco-terrorist scare" stories appeared in the San Francisco Examiner a few days after the bridge climb. It began with this fantasy, "The scenario: Terrorists, whether religious fanatics or political zealots, attack the Bay Area. They plant explosives on the transmission towers of key electric lines. They bomb switching stations. They poison the water..." The article went on to talk about the Golden Gate Bridge climb, the Santa Cruz power lines, Earth First!, and Redwood Summer.
So while the real Earth First! in northern California was renouncing tree spiking, building coalitions with workers and peace activists, and responding to timber industry violence by calling for mass no-violence, the public was being taught to associate us with bombs and terrorism. By the time the bomb went off in my car they were well primed to accept the FBI's incredible lie: not only are EF!ers violent terrorists who carry bombs around in our cars, but we are stupid violent terrorists who hide live anti-personnel bombs under our own car seats.
Normally, a car bombing in Oakland would fall under the jurisdiction of the ATF, not the FBI. So it was uncanny how fast the FBI showed up when the bomb went off in my car. The first agent arrived literally within minutes, and soon there were 12-15 agents from the FBI Terrorist Squad on the scene.
The FBI told the Oakland Police that they were going to "assist" in this case, and they quickly briefed Oakland on me, Darryl, and Earth First! "They said that these were the types of people who would be involved in carrying a bomb," said Oakland Police Sgt. Sitterud in his sworn deposition. "They told us that these people, in fact, qualified as terrorists." Ten minutes after he arrived on the scene, based on the information he got from the FBI, Sgt. Sitterud made an entry in his police log describing Darryl and me as "Earth First! leaders suspected of Santa Cruz power pole sabotage, linked with federal case of attempted destruction of nuclear power plant lines in Arizona."
Meanwhile, Special Agent Frank Doyle, 20-year veteran bomb expert with the (aptly named) FBI Terrorist Squad, had taken over examining my car. The damage was obvious. A hole was blown in the driver's seat - you could see right through to the street below - and the car frame was buckled directly under it. When they unbolted the front seat and removed it from the car, there was a 2'x4' blast hole in the floor, with the metal curled back from an obvious epicenter under the driver's seat (see police photos). Any honest observer would have concluded that a bomb had been hidden under my seat, and that this was a case of attempted murder.
But Special Agent Frank Doyle had other ideas. In defiance of all the evidence, he claimed that the bomb was located on the back seat floorboard, therefore Darryl and I were knowingly carrying it, and it was our bomb. That was all the Oakland Police needed to hear. The OPD has a long history, dating back at least to the Black Panthers, of fronting for the FBI in COINTELPRO operations. So, with a wink and a nod, they ignored the evidence in front of their noses and went along with the FBI's incredible lie. Three hours after the bombing, I was placed under arrest while still in surgery, charged with transporting the bomb that had been used to try to kill me. Darryl was arrested 12 hours later.
The evening of the bombing, the FBI held a briefing meeting for the Oakland Police. They said that Earth First! was a domestic terrorist group who started a year ago downing power lines in Arizona, and now were on their way to California to do it again. They said Darryl and I were the prime suspects in the downing of the Santa Cruz power lines, and that I was also suspected in a recent pipe bombing at the Louisiana Pacific sawmill in Cloverdale, near where I lived. They also said that an undercover informant who was "close to the leadership of Earth First!" had told them that "the heavies from up north" were on their way to Santa Cruz for some kind of "action." And of course, Darryl and I were indeed on our way to Santa Cruz. But the "action" was a concert, not a bomb.
After the briefing, Oakland Police Sgt. Chenault wrote an affadavit for the search warrant on Darryl's and my houses. Chenault has testified that the FBI agents literally dictated while he typed. The affadavit says, "(I) viewed the white Subaru along with agents from the FBI. (I) was advised by these agents that the bomb device was on the floorboard behind the driver's seat when it detonated." "(I) believe that Bari and Cherney are members of a violent terrorist group involved in the manufacture and placing of explosive devices. (I) believe that Bari and Cherney were transporting an explosive device in their vehicle when it exploded."
The media had a field day with this news, as the FBI and Oakland Police provided them with the images they needed to make it look like they had busted up a ring of terrorists. They raided Seeds of Peace House without a warrant, turned the place upside down in a fruitless search, and led the occupants away in handcuffs, only to release them a few hours later, after the reporters and cameras had gone home. TV news that night included not only the raid, but and interview with a neighbor who said there were strange goings on in that house, with lights on at all hours. When Seeds of Peace responded that they were a non-violent collective who cooks food for mass non-violent actions, the neighbor replied, "I don't know that they're cooking over there. It doesn't smell like food. Maybe PCP."
Another image shown over and over on the TV news was the search of Darryl's van. Of course the police found nothing, but they sure put on a good show. They picked out a "suspicious" box of tapes of Darryl's incendiary music, cordoned off the block, and blew it up in front of the TV cameras, supposedly to see if it contained a bomb. "No additional explosives were found," reported the TV, as if explosives had been found in the first place.
The standard bail for the charges against us was $12,000. Not only was this too easy to raise, but it was clearly not enough for the dangerous criminals they made us out to be. So, circumventing the normal procedures, the Oakland Police went straight to the judge, without even a lawyer there to represent us. Darryl and I were both declared a flight risk and a danger to the public, even though I was unconscious in the hospital with my leg in traction and my pelvis broken in 10 places. And our bail was raised to $100,000 each, spawning a new round of headlines and giving credence to the charge of terrorism.
The news quickly went national, with newspapers across the country screaming about Earth First!ers carrying bombs. It was the only time we ever made the front page of the New York Times. The press ate up the police lies with a big spoon, instantly convicting us in their stories. "Two members of the radical environmental group Earth First! were injured Thursday by their own pipe bomb," began the lead article in the San Jose Mercury News. "Earth First! leaders hurt in a pipe bomb explosion yesterday have no one but themselves to blame for their injuries," smirked the blow-dried talking heads on the TV news. And I don't know how many of us are really aware of how much this hurt Earth First!'s image on a national scale. But even today, particularly in places where there is no active EF! movement, bombs and tree spikes are the only things many people know about us.
Despite the image they were able to project in the press, the FBI must have known they would have a hard time pinning anything on us. The searches of our houses had turned up no explosives, no weapons, and no incriminating items. And, as the FBI knew perfectly well, the damage to my car proved that the bomb had been hidden from my sight.
Also, the Earth First!ers were just not acting like terrorists. Rather than hiding out, 200 of them gathered in the lobby of the FBI building, singing, chanting, hugging and crying, and refusing to leave until Darryl was released from jail. Karen Pickett, Pam Davis, Kelpie Wilson and others came across as strong and credible spokespeople, citing our commitment to non-violence, holding up the death threats we had received, and calling for a non-violent response to the act of terror that had been done to us. These views were getting some press attention, and if we managed to convince the public of our innocence, the FBI would need a good back up story. Because if we didn't bomb ourselves, there were only two other suspects - timber and FBI.
One week after the bombing, a strange anonymous letter arrived at the Press Democrat, addressed to top timber reporter Mike Geniella. "I built with these hands the bomb that I placed in the car of Judi Bari," it began. "Doubt me not, for I will tell you the design and materials such as only I will know." In flowery, biblical language, the letter went on to describe my participation in an abortion clinic defense several years earlier ("I saw Satan's flames shoot forth from her mouth, her eyes and ears..."), and cite my pro- abortion stance, as well as my "paganism" and defense of the forest, as reasons to kill me. The letter writer then described in exact detail not only the bomb in my car, but also the bomb at the Cloverdale sawmill, that the FBI had already tried to pin on me, taking credit for both. The letter was signed "The Lord's Avenger."
The Lord's Avenger letter was chilling, and at the time, it even fooled me. But in retrospect, it was clearly a fake, meant to lead us off the trail. The Lord's Avenger claimed that he put the bomb in my car while I was in a meeting in Willits, up in the timber region, two days before the bomb went off. But the bomb in my car had a 12-hour timer, so it could not have been place anywhere but Oakland or Berkeley, where I stayed the night before it exploded.
The Lord's Avenger letter had several functions. It provided a plausible lone assassin not connected to timber or FBI. It threw a veil of confusion over the motives for the bombing. And it removed the investigation from Oakland, where the bomb was actually placed, to Mendocino County, where there are many crazy people to use as suspects. And, masterfully, the FBI managed to simultaneously promote the letter as a key piece of evidence, while continuing their claim that Darryl and I bombed ourselves. Since we were the only suspects, they reasoned, Lord's Avenger must be our accomplice. So, with great fanfare, they raided my house a second time, this time looking for "typewriter exemplars" to match the Lord's Avenger letter, and never mentioning that nothing they found even vaguely matched.
Since we were declared the only suspects, the FBI and police did not even attempt to investigate the death threats, fake press releases, or any other evidence of timber industry violence. Their entire investigation for the first eight weeks consisted of sending the bomb in my car, the Cloverdale bomb, and the Lord's Avenger letter to the FBI lab for analysis. They also sent in 111 items seized from our houses, including tools, solder, nails, glue, etc, to try and match them to the bomb.
But when the lab analysis came back, the FBI had problems. The solder, tape, glue, etc. from the Cloverdale bomb and the bomb in my car matched exactly, and the two bombs matched the Lord's Avenger's description. But the solder, tape, glue, etc. seized from our houses did not match the bomb. Further, it was determined that the bomb in my car was an anti-personnel bomb, wrapped with nails for shrapnel effect. And it was determined that it also included a motion device, hooked up to the 12-hour timer. In other words, the bomb was a booby trap device, triggered by the motion of my car, and quite unlikely to be knowingly carried under anyone's car seat.
The lab analysis of the hole in the floor of my car also showed that the epicenter of the blast was under the driver's seat, not behind it. And, to top it all off, they found that a blue towel had been placed over the bomb, making it even more unlikely that we would have seen it. The blue towel did not match the other blue towels seized from my house.
The FBI was hard put to keep the case going against us. But they managed to find a straw to cling to for a few more weeks. Of all the 111 items seized, two nails allegedly had the same tool markings as some of the nails in the bomb. By this it could be determined that they were made on the same machine. But many hundreds of thousands of nails a day are made on each machine. The supplier, Pacific Steel, told the FBI that the nails come in 50-lb boxes from Saudi Arabia, and are distributed at over 200 outlets on the north coast. So, logically, it would be concluded that the nails were too common to compare.
But logic never stopped the FBI. They just make up new lies. This time, according to an Oakland Police affidavit, an FBI bomb expert told them that the nails matched in a batch of 200-1000. Apparently they didn't even try to make this argument in court, but they used it in the press for several weeks to counter emerging proof of our innocence, and they used it as part of the justification for the second raid on my house.
The Oakland Police, who were technically responsible for the arrest, went to court three times in the eight weeks following the bombing to try and get the district attorney to bring charges against Darryl and me. But each time they could produce no real evidence against us. Finally, after the third try, the DA declined to press charges. Still we were not exonerated. The FBI and Oakland Police, although chastened by their inability to charge us with the crime, continued to say that we were the only suspects. Dumb enough to carry a live anti-personnel bomb under my car seat, but, apparently too clever to catch.
Four weeks before the bomb exploded in my car in May 1990, Oakland Police Sgt. Myron Hanson attended an FBI training class on bombings, held at the College of the Redwoods in Eureka, in the heart of the redwood region. The instructor for this course was none other than Frank Doyle Jr., the FBI Terrorist Squad bomb expert who showed up at the scene of the car-bombing in Oakland, directed the police's examination of the bomb damage to my car, and came up with the lie about the bomb being located on the back seat floorboard where we would have seen it.
So when Sgt. Hanson was assigned to inspect my car at the scene of the bombing, he quickly deferred to the expertise of his instructor, agent Doyle. During the week-long bomb school, which was open to law enforcement only, the class had studied car-bomb pipe bombings. According to Sgt. Hanson's sworn testimony, agent Doyle told the class that when people bomb other people's cars, they hardly ever put the bomb inside the passenger compartment, because of the supposed difficulty of breaking into a locked car. Instead they strap the bomb to the bottom of the car or hide it in the engine compartment. Sgt. Hanson testified that one of the reasons he believed that the bomb in my car belonged to us was because it had been placed in the passenger compartment.
Another kind of pipe bomb that Sgt. Hanson studied in FBI bomb school was an incendiary bomb, in which the pipe is strapped to a gasoline can to start a fire. This is exactly the same kind of bomb that was found partially exploded at the Cloverdale L-P mill in my area in May 1990. This bomb turned out to have the same solder, tape, glue and other components as the bomb in my car, and the FBI tried to blame it on us too. By an incredible coincidence, the Cloverdale bomb was set off during the exact same week* as bomb school was held. Sgt. Hanson did not tell us whether the class took any field trips.
[*Ed. Note: Judi was mistaken on the dates; the Cloverdale bomb incident was two weeks after bomb school and two weeks before Judi and Darryl were bombed in Oakland.]
(For an update, read FBI Bomb School and Other Atrocities)
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